Christopher Branch Sr.

Christopher Branch Sr.

London, City of London, Greater London, England
Death Feb 1682 (aged 83)
Henrico, Henrico County, Virginia, USA
Burial Henrico County, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 115319744 View Source

The blue highlighted names are clickable links. Christopher Branch, Sr. and his wife, Mary (Addie) Branch, were the earliest American ancestors of record (3rd great paternal grandparents) of POTUS Thomas Jefferson through their son, Christopher Branch, Jr.

Christopher Branch, Sr. was born 02 Sep 1598 in Greater London, England, the only son of Lionel Branch (1566-1605) and his wife, Valentia Sparke (see source #1 below). Information from Lyn McDaniel (FAG contributor #47472091) indicates that Valentia (Sparke) Branch was buried on 04 Aug 1600 at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster (Ref: “Memorials of St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster” 1460-1603, Edited by Burke).

Christopher was married at St. Peter's, Westcheap, London, in the city of London by virtue of a marriage license from the Bishop of London on 02 Sept 1619 to Mary Addie (Addy), daughter of Francis Addie (Addy), husbandman of Darton, Yorkshire (See attached copy of their marriage document). Christopher’s notice of his intent to marry Mary Addie was posted at St. Peter’s Westcheap, London in 1619. Christopher must have been well thought of by his grandfather, William Branch, for he left him 5 marks in his will. Christopher's father, Lionel, was disinherited in the same will.

In March 1620, Christopher and Mary (Addie) Branch embarked on the "London Merchant" of 300 tons burden dispatched from the Port of London for Virginia. This ship was commissioned by the Virginia Company and carried 200 passengers, mostly single men, and arrived with only the loss of one soul. Christopher and Mary first settled in present Henrico Co., in an area called "ye Colledg Land" (the College Land) circa 1623/24 and in the muster, 1624/25, he, his wife and their 9 months old son, Thomas, were listed there (Ref: See page 7 source #1 below which is also attached to this memorial). The Virginia Company offered inducements for new colonists to settle on the College Lands at this time to replenish the population decimated by the recent (1622) Indian massacre. The precise location of the Branch home during this period is indeterminate as the College Land was a very extensive tract set aside by the Virginia Company whereon "to erect and build a college in Virginia, for the training and bringing up of infidel's children to the true knowledge of God and the understanding of righteousness".

Shortly afterward, Christopher patented land and lived at or near Arrowhattocks on the North side of the James River and finally settled at "Kingsland", his plantation on the South side of the James River almost opposite Arrowhattocks near Proctor's Creek (see map for location of "Kingsland"; NOTE: The dates on the map associated with Christopher Branch are land patent dates). Their son, Thomas, born May 1624 was listed as the only Virginia born child in the county (Henrico) at the time. "Kingsland", just west of "Farrar's Island", was also near "Osborne", home of the Jeffersons (see accompanying historical marker).

Christopher returned briefly to England in 1632, going to court, proclaiming the Bull Inn in Abingdon ought, by rights, to be his, but of which he had been cheated by his uncle, Robert Payne. He stated in court that his father (Lionel Branch) died 27 years earlier when he himself was only two or three years old. Robert Payne's son, Richard, was the owner of Bull Inn at the time of the suit. Christopher's case stated that, by the terms of his great-uncle Thomas' will of 1565 the Bull Inn after descending to his grandfather, William Branch, and to his uncle, William's eldest son Thomas, should have descended to Christopher's father, Lionel, as heir at law of the younger Thomas, and so to Christopher after Lionel's death.

Christopher was challenging the 1624 transfer of ownership of the Bull Inn by the younger Thomas to his brother-in-law, Robert Payne, as part of the settlement of his marriage. Unfortunately for Christopher, the transfer of ownership was upheld. Shortly after the hearing of this case, Richard Payne seems to have conveyed the Bull Inn to Christ Hospital of Abingdon, for numerous leases by the hospital dating from 1644-1856 are extant. This can be found at the Public Recds Off. Chancery Proceedings, Charles I Reign, Bundle B. 21, no. 34. Note: Shortly after losing this suit in Chancery, Christopher returned to Henrico Co., VA.

Land acquisitions of Christopher Branch, Sr.: As "Christopher Branch, Planter, of Arrowhattocks in Henrico County", he was granted a lease, 29 Oct 1634, for 21 years on 100 acres lying "east upon the maine River (the James)" [Patent Bk.1, p155]. The following year, 08 Dec 1635, he patented 250 acres"at "Kingsland" (his plantation) over against Arrowhattocks, east upon the maine River….adjacent to the land of John Griffin, now in the tenure of said Branch….50 acres for his own personal adventure and 200 acres for the transportation of 4 persons (head rights) [Patent Bk. 1, p155]. "By 28 Feb 1638/9, Christopher Branch, Sr.'s plantation numbered 450 acres after he had acquired an additional 100 acres through an exchange with James Place (see map near Kingsland) and the remaining acreage through additional "head rights" [Patent Bk. 1 pp381, 527, 634]. He accumulated a large plantation in the extreme northeast of Chesterfield Co., bounded upon the east by the James River and upon the south by Proctor's Creek. The present Kingsland Creek ran through his property (see attached map). He was a prosperous tobacco planter whose land holdings grew to 1,380 acres by the time of his death at the age of 80 (an exceptional age for the times).

An "Item" from the 20 Jun 1678 will of Christopher Branch, Sr. probated 20 Sep 1681/82 in Henrico Co. states, "Item: I give unto Thomas Jefferson (I) (1629-1697), one hogshead of tobacco of four hundred pounds weight whom I made with my grandson Christopher Branch III my full and sole executor of this my last will and testament and I desire him to see my will truly performed, my debts and legacies being paid and burial discharged, all the rest of my estate I give unto my grandchildren Christopher Branch and Samuel and Benjamin and Sarah and Mary Branch, the wife of Thomas Jefferson [this was Thomas Jefferson I (1629-1697), the great grandfather of POTUS Thomas Jefferson] to be equally divided among them. Witness my hand and seal the day and year above written.
Signed: Christopher Branch
Witnessed by: Richard Ward and Abel Gower.
Source: Henrico County Wills 1677-1692.

Christopher Branch, Sr. was named in an Act of Assembly, 1639, as a "tobacco viewer from the World's End (see map) to Henrico", and was Burgess for the county the following year (1640), and justice of Henrico Co. in 1657. A "viewer of tobacco crop" was a sort of government quality inspector/appraiser. "World's End" was the name of Richard Perrin's plantation. Christopher's 20 Feb 1681 will described him as "of Kingsland". Mary (Addie) Branch, his wife, had died many years before, about 1630, and there is no record of him remarrying. In 1640, when he was serving as Burgess, the House ordered all the bad tobacco and half the good tobacco be burned (no pun intended). This attempt to control the over supply left production for the year at only 1.5 million pounds.

The children of Christopher and Mary (Addie) Branch, Sr. were:
1) Thomas Branch b. May 1624 Henrico Co., VA, d. 1694, m. Elizabeth (Gough?).
2) William Branch (see below)
3) Christopher Branch, Jr. (see below)

NOTE: William Branch, Sr.'s (1625-1660), a son of Christopher Branch, Sr. and Mary (Addie) Branch, was the first husband, deceased, of Jane (Hatcher) Branch, Baugh, Gower). Shortly after Jane’s marriage to her third husband, Abel Gower, he witnessed the 20 Jun 1678 will of Christopher Branch, Sr.

Christopher Sr. died in 1682 and was buried at "Kingsland", his plantation, in the Branch Family Cemetery in a now unidentifiable grave site.

Christopher Branch, Sr.'s lineage is proven to Charlemagne through King William I (the Conqueror) and his descendants qualify for membership in the "Jamestowne Society" and the "Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in the United States of America".

1) "Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5" by John Frederick Dorman, Vol. I, 4th Ed., 2004, pp7, 366-425.
2) "Acts of the General Assembly Jan 6 1639/40", William & Mary Quarterly (series 2) Vol. 4, pp 16-35.
3) Henrico County, Virginia Deeds 1677-1705, Compiled by Benjamin B. Weisiger III, Richmond, VA, 1986.
4) "Cavaliers and Pioneers" Vol. 1 by Nell Marion Nugent, 1983, p549.
5) "Branch of Abingdon" by James Branch Cabell, 1911, pp75-84.
6) "Branchiana" by James Branch Cabell, 1907, pp107-110.
7) "Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635" by Martha W. McCartney, 2007, pp153-154.
8) "Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography", Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Vol. 5, 1915, pp1055-57.
9) "Virginia Vital Records" Indexed by Judith McGhan, 1984, p9.

Bio by Gresham Farrar.

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